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Banner doctor: Arizona in midst of rattlesnake season

PHOENIX — Rattlesnake season is underway in Arizona. Hospitals throughout the Valley have reported a recent increase in the number of patients who have been bitten by the reptiles.

Dr. Steven Curry, director of the Department of Medical Toxicology at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, said July has been a busy month in regard to snake bites.

He said doctors at Banner’s Poison, Drug and Information Center have recently treated an average of one rattlesnake bite patient per day.

“And we’ve had patients who have experienced multiple bites at one time,” Curry said.

Curry said he recommends keeping at least a 15-foot distance from snakes in the wild, especially a rattlesnake.

“Keep distance and as soon as you recognize an encounter with a snake, move away from it. Do not move toward the snake,” Curry said.

If a person is bitten by a rattlesnake, Curry said do not treat the wound; seek medical attention instead.

“We discourage the use of snakebite kits, taking knives and cutting on yourself over the wounds, and we discourage the use of suction,” he said. “The best first aid is a set of car keys.”

Arizona averages about one rattlesnake bite death every year.